Canine Inspiration

Out of the blue, inspiration struck this week in the form of a great pet slideshow we all can learn from.

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Guideposts Editor-in-Chief Edward Grinnan

You never know when—or how—inspiration will hit. 

For instance this year I decided that I’d had it with New Year’s resolutions. I was sick of making lists and forgetting about them or worse, unearthing them later in the year and realizing how completely I’d failed. I’m not sure how I came to this conclusion—perhaps it was just the accretion of failure—but I was determined to stick with it. Besides, were there any resolutions I hadn’t already tackled at one time or another?

Then this week there was a link in a newsletter I get to a slideshow called “20 Things You Can Learn from Your Pet.” Well, you know me. There was no way I wasn’t clicking through. At last, perhaps, I would learn what it is Millie always seems to be trying to teach me when she gives me one of those “You are really dense” looks.

Check out the slideshow. There are some great tips, and the photography is exceptional. And wouldn’t you know it, it is the perfect, ready-made New Year’s resolution list. Almost everything here I could stand to improve on, and they seem far more achievable when put into a canine (or feline) context. Here are just a few I really like:

Take Naps
One of my dog’s favorite pastimes. There is ample evidence that in humans, regular napping improves health, lengthens your life and boosts memory.

Let Bygones Be Bygones
Millie never holds a grudge, even when I tromp on her tail. Chronic anger has been linked to decreased lung function. Forgiveness lowers blood pressure, say researchers.

Live in the Moment
People are happiest, experts claim, when the mind is focused.

I’ve often wished I had a tail to wag. It must feel incredible! Dogs seem to enter into a state of ecstasy when they go into a full tail-wagging frenzy. People who regularly express gratitude, research shows, have more positive attitudes about life. I had a giant white Lab once named Marty who used to fall over, he wagged his tail so hard. It’s probably better, though, that we humans don’t possess tails. Imagine how much money we would spend grooming and adorning and accessorizing our tails and using them to express status and social divisions. Hmmm ... maybe when I get to heaven, God will give me a tail.

On the same day I received the link to this entertaining slideshow, I opened a daily devotional from a 12-step group that extolled the importance of a single word for people who are in recovery: vigilance. Vigilance about sobriety, of course, but also about our relationships, our character flaws, our desires, our egos and our spirituality. I couldn’t help thinking about my friend Debbie Macomber’s cover article for this month’s Guideposts. Instead of making resolutions, Debbie chooses a word that will focus her spiritually for the year. In 2012 my word will be vigilance.

So there you have it. Right out of the blue of cyberspace, inspiration struck in the form of a great slideshow and a word I can’t afford to forget. And I will get right to it: I’m going to practice wagging my tail immediately, then take a nap.

What’s your word or resolution this year? Post below.

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